11 Jun 2013
Informazione utile

Legal (attorney) fees in Italy

Posted by Nicola Canestrini

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"The lack of great transparency and information on costs of justice might have the effect of deterring individuals from exercising their rights, while creating a sense of unfairness and judicial insecurity."

Study on the Transparency of Costs of Civil Judicial Proceedings in the European Union, Country report Italy, 2007

As known, attorney's fees (or attorneys' fees, depending upon number of attorneys involved, or simplified to attorney fees) are the fees charged by lawyers or their firms for legal services provided by them to their clients.

Under italian law they do not include incidental costs; legal fees depend on several factors, including the amount of time spent on / seriousness of the case; the lawyer's ability, experience, and reputation; the novelty and difficulty of the case; the results obtained.

The Italian system of lawyers’ fees is now based on fee arrangements become more usual.

Please note that in 2006, the Competition Law (Law Decree No. 223/2006) abolished statutory fixed and minimum attorney fees, and lifted the prohibition on contingency fees; it should be also noted that the Italian regulation on lawyers' consulting and representation fees has been object of a recent radical intervention of the Italian Legislator.



The amount of lawyers' fees for judicial proceedings can be obtained by consulting a lawyer, who provides such information for free. Such specific information on lawyers' fees is not provided by brochures, information centres or by calling courts. It should be noted that a registered lawyer is generally needed in all litigations.



There are many types of fee arrangement under italian law.

There are several types of fee arrangements used by italian attorneys:

Contingency Fees: The lawyer's fee is based on a percentage of the amount awarded in the case. If he loses the case, the lawyer does not get a fee, but the client will still have to pay expenses. Contingency fee percentages vary.

Flat Fees: A lawyer charges a specific, total fee. A flat fee is usually offered only if the case is relatively simple or routine.

Hourly Rate: The lawyer will charge for each hour (or portion of an hour) that he works on the case. For example the hour fee may be: from 80 Euro/per hour average for a Junior associate to 500-600 Euros/per hour average for a Senior Specialist Lawyer (Study on the Transparency of Costs of Civil Judicial Proceedings in the European Union - COUNTRY REPORT ITALY - 2007, http://e-justice.europa.eu).

Moreover, it should be noted that V.A.T. and other additional costs are applicabile.



As per Italian law, on top of legal fees the following shall be calculated:

- costs
- a percentage for general expenses reimbursement (15% fixed by law),
- 4 % for compulsory national bar pension fund contribution and
- 22 % VAT (for Europan Union individuals and non-EU companies and individuals).

Studio legale CanestriniLex Law firm is aware of the importance of cost control and understand that our clients need to be able to check the activities carried out as well as the related costs: we therefore provide accurate estimates of the expected costs.

To keep our clients informed of the legal fees accrued as the matter proceeds, we issue interim invoices.

If there isn't any fee arrangement, the judge may apply the schedule system.

The criteria for determining fees and emoluments payable to members of the Bar in respect of civil and criminal proceedings and out-of-court work are based on:

- the monetary value of disputes,

- the level of the court seised and,

- in criminal matters, the duration of the proceedings,

having regard to the seriousness and number of the issues dealt with.



The rule on legal fees and costs is the so called english rule ("loser pays" or "costs follow the event"): the judge will order the unsuccessful party to reimburse the litigation costs incurred by the successful party in the amount liquidated by the judge. The judge may set off the costs, if the parties are both partly successful, if the case involves the examination of complex matters or new principles of law or there are "other serious and exceptional reasons" that must be specifically indicated in the judgment (read more: Litigation & Dispute Resolution - by Francesca Rolla, Daniele La Cognata, International Comparative Legal Guide Series, 2010).



The general rule calls for reimbursment of costs to the Stat in case of conviction (but there are several exceptions, e.g. in the plea bargaining); please note that no reimbursement of attorney fees is provided in case of acquittment.


For more information you might visit: https://e-justice.europa.eu/attachments/cost_study_italy_en.pdf

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